When is it hard to stay awake?

 

Thursday of the 21st Week Ordinary

I Thessalonians 3:7-13

Matthew 24:42-51

All School Mass

 

Welcome back to school! To those of you who are new welcome to our wonderful Catholic School.

What has been the hardest transitions from summer break to school?

When is it hard to stay awake? Recess, lunch, Math class, Mass? Our readings today encourage us to stay awake.

 

In our Gospel, Jesus says to “Stay awake, so we can be ready to do his will.” So what is Jesus talking about when he says, “Stay awake?”

 

In our first reading St. Paul gives us the answer to what Jesus is talking about staying awake. St. Paul says we are to “Stay awake and be ready, to love, to be understanding, and to be hospitable to anyone who needs it.”

 

Will the students who are new to our school this year, please stand? May we welcome them to our school?

 

I want to leave you with this thought. If St. Paul and Jesus were first-time students in our school, would they be happy or sad to be here because of our love?

 

 

 

 

 

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Do not be a hypocrite!

 

Wednesday of the 21 Week

Ordinary Time

I Thessalonians 2:9-13

Matthew 23:27-32

 

I am so glad that I am wearing this beautiful vestment to make me look holy.

I am so glad that I polished my shoes this morning to make me look professional.

I am so glad that I am a priest to make me look so holy.

 

All those things can help to make me look holy, but not of them make me holy. What I need to focus on is who I am when you do not see me. Who am I when I am not in my clerics? Our readings challenge us on making sure our outside matches up with our inside.

 

In our first reading, St. Paul is saying he has worked so hard, not be a burden to anyone. Paul wants people to see him for who he is a hardworking, Gospel sharing person for God. Paul gives thanks that the people have received the Gospel of Christ wholeheartedly.

 

In the Gospel, Jesus says, “You are like whitewashed tombs, beautiful on the outside, but filthy on the inside. You hypocrites! You pretend to hear the word of God, but you do not act on the word, and it does not change your life.”

 

We are being challenged by God’s word. How are we hypocritical in our lives? How do we pretend to look pious, but am not? How do we pretend to look prayerful, but do not pray? How do we pretend to be generous but only give from our surplus?

 

May God’s word and this Eucharist help us to clear out the falsehoods of our lives.

 

 

 

 

Are we on fire for the Lord?

 

Thursday of the 21st Week

The Passion of John the Baptist

I Thessalonians 2: 1-8 

Mark 6:17-29 

 

 

Students welcome back to another school year! Why is it important to begin our school day with the celebration of the Eucharist? As teachers, leaders, and me as a priest, we want you to be good disciples of Jesus Christ! Not just good disciples but disciples like what we hear about in our readings today.

 

All of you students are going to receive the finest education in the Diocese of Grand Rapids. However, if we do not share with you our faith, if we do not do everything we can to help you grow in faith and to be a better person, then we have failed in our jobs. Yes! You will be given a fine education, but we must work even harder to help you grow in faith.

 

In our first reading St. Paul tells us he and Silas were unfairly treated and were beaten and imprisoned. Paul tells us he and Silas were given the courage to preach the truth after each mistreatment. Paul says, “We were judged worthy by God to be entrusted with the Gospel, knowing God would judge our hearts.

 

In our Gospel, we are told that Herod feared John, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man, and Herod enjoyed listening to John. However, when his daughter asked for the killing of John the Baptist Herod allowed it to happen. All the intelligence in the world does not make a faith filled person.

 

The reason we start our day with Mass, is because we want you to be on fire for your faith and to live it with “passion.” May this Eucharist help us to learn more about our faith and want to live our faith more passionately.

 

Who do you say I am?

 

Twenty – First Sunday in Ordinary Time

Isaiah 22:19-23

Romans 11: 33-36

Matthew 16:13-20

 

“Who do you say that I am?” I could stop right now with my homily and make this your homework assignment to ask a loved one, “Who do you say that I am?” I said I could stop but I will not because Jesus has so much to teach us today. We normally get the answer to that question when someone has had enough of us, and that let us know what they think in a negative way. It is a big question, and the answer to this question asked in the right context can bring a life giving response. This morning, I decided to tell a good friend what they meant to me, so I rattled off a few things that I admire about this person. When I was done, then I asked, “So, what do you think of me?” There was this long pause, and then he said, “You better tell me what you really want, or I am taking you to the home!” My friends, we all need to answer in ourselves, “Who is Jesus to us, and what does he mean to us?”

 

In our Gospel, Jesus takes his disciples to a far away place where they can be quiet and reflect for a bit. Jesus is setting them up for greatness. Jesus asks, “Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?” What I find interesting about this question is Jesus gives them the answer to the question. Of course, the disciples say, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” The disciples say only dead people, holy dead people, but no one who is alive. Jesus hears the answers, but he wants more so he asks, “But who do you say that I am?” Noticed he does not end the question telling them who he is! Peter the one who just got done calling out to Jesus, “Lord, save me, because I am sinking” says, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responds, “Blessed are you, Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church and give you the keys to the kingdom of God.”

 

We need to answer the question: You who are married, who is Jesus to you in your marriage? Is the spark still alive? All you who are returning to school, who is Jesus to you? Will you be who God wants you to be, or will you be what others what you to be? You who are frightened or afraid, who is Jesus Christ to you? Will you allow Jesus to calm all your fears? How will we respond to Jesus this question if we have really messed up and are in need of God’s forgiveness?

 

How we answer the question has as much to say about our understanding of Jesus as it does about how we understand ourselves. It describes our expectations, our motivation, and our depth of faith. The other challenge is we do not just answer the question once, and we are done with it. The question is a living breathing question that we must answer every day.

 

We come to the Eucharist, to answer Jesus when he asks us the question, “Who do you say I am?” we answer the question now so that it will make a difference the other 167 hours of our week. May we be strengthened in his body and his blood to help us on our journey to grow closer to him and our true vocation?  

 

Graced in Love!

 

Friday of the 20th Week Ordinary Time

Ruth 1:1, 3-6, 14-16, 22

Matthew 22: 34-40

 

There have been a lot of great love stories, but today’s love story between Naomi and Ruth is one of the greatest. Our theme in our readings today speaks to us about love, loyalty, and faithfulness.

 

Our first reading is about Naomi, her husband, and their two sons who flee Bethlehem because of a famine in the land and they settle in Moab. Their two sons marry Moabite woman. The husband dies and years later the two son’s die. Naomi wants to return to her native land and says, three times to her daughter-in-laws, “You may return to your families as I return home.” One daughter – law, does return home, but Ruth decides to stay. Ruth says to Naomi, “For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.” Ruth shows Naomi great loyalty, love, and faithfulness that all of us desire from someone.

 

The Pharisees asked, “What is the greatest commandment?” He responds, “To love the Lord, with your heart, with your soul, and with your mind and to love your neighbor as yourself.”  

 

How in our lives have we heard God say to us, “Wherever you go I will go?” How have people said that to us, and showed us that this is true? Finally, we are called today to say to our loved ones, “For wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people and your God my God.”

 

The grace to do this is offered to us in this Eucharist, may we live it well this day.  

We are invited!

 

Thursday of the 20th Week Ordinary Time

Feast of St. Bartholomew

Revelation: 21: 9-14

John 1: 45-51

 

The First Christian Reformed Church in Grand Haven has a Recycling Appliance Program. They will pick up any old, used appliances and recycle it, for free! I had this old freezer to get rid of so I called the church and gave them my information of where I lived and what I wanted to be recycled. The secretary returned my call and told me when they would be picking up my freezer. However, then at the end of the message, she said, “If you are in need of a bible for any reason, we have free bibles to give away. If you would like to come worship with us, our service is at 10:00 on Sunday morning. We would love for you to worship with us.” Wow! So they will take my old freezer that has not worked for 15 years, and give me a life giving bible. What a wonderful exchange! On this Feast Day of St. Bartholomew, we celebrate that invitation to Christ.  

 

In our Gospel, Philip invites Bartholomew to “Come; we have found the Lord!” Bartholomew responds, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?” Philip responds, “Come and see!” As soon as the Lord sees Bartholomew, he says, “Here is a true child of God.” If Philip would not have invited Bartholomew, we may not be celebrating this feast day. Bartholomew would go on to do great things in the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

 

What we celebrate, on any of the Feast Day St. Bartholomew is we stand on the shoulders of the apostles. We are invited to be like them and invite others to Christ. Can we share out Catholic faith with pride? We do this by wearing religious items, such as crosses, medals of Mary and other things. We do this by praying before meals even if we are out to eat in a restaurant. Or can we be so bold as to invite someone to church with you?

 

The Eucharist is offered to us too great things in God’s name!

 

 

I am sorry, please forgive me!

 

Wednesday of the 20th Week

Ordinary Time

Judges 9:6-15

Matthew 20: 1-16

 

I am sorry, it is my fault. Yesterday I said something that I regret deeply. My words were hurtful, and I know I hurt people, and I can never get back those words. I am sorry, please forgive me.

If I take the teaching of Jesus to my heart, then I am also sorry for all the things you have done wrong to hurt others. By the teachings of Jesus, we are all one; we are responsible for each other in our words and our actions. I am sorry, please forgive me, it is my fault.

 

Our first reading is all about being a good leader. We heard the tale of an olive plant, a fig tree, and a grapevine; each has been asked to be a leader over all the other plants. However to be the leader the olive plant has to stop producing its rich olive oil, the fig tree would have to stop producing its rich fruit, and the vine would have to stop producing its sweet wine. These are all the very things that give life to these plants. In being good leaders, we need to stay true to our true selves in Jesus Christ.    

 

In our Gospel, we hear what was routine in the time of Jesus, a farm owner would go out each day and hire the strongest, the best of workers first, and if he needed more workers would go out and hire more workers to get the work done. By the end of the day; he was hiring the least qualified, those with the least experience. All get paid equally. The point Jesus is making is, that God is just as concerned for the lost and forsaken as he is those who are doing very well.

 

In this Eucharist, we are all one in Christ. It is time for us to take the teachings of Christ to heart and to try harder to live those teachings more in our lives! I am sorry, it is my fault, please forgive me. What may I do to lessen your burden and how can you help me easy my burdens, for we all want to overcome what we are struggling with this day?